Self-Acceptance and Self-Love
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Principle: Self acceptance is a prerequisite to self-love.
Practice: Be curious about behavior that’s troubling or problematic for you. Inquire with compassion into what underlies it.
Last week, I mentioned my recognition of how self-righteous and self-centered I can be, in the context of being convinced I know the ONE right way for the abbots in my Order to be designing and facilitating the workshops they teach. This week, the Divine has offered me an opportunity to explore this selfishness more deeply, this time in the form of frustration and anger over the Medicare system.
The bottom line is that the insurance company I’ve chosen for my Medicare coverage is evaluating me as high risk, which means I will pay $352/month instead of around $150. Further, once they’ve rated me as high risk, I stay high risk for the rest of my life, so over whatever my remaining time is, I’ll be paying them an extra $30-40,000.
I went into an outraged hissy fit when I learned this (fortunately, I received the information via chat with a representative, so I did not explode verbally at her). I was enraged and fuming over what I saw as unfairness – and the Divine arranged for a friend to call at just that moment. After listening to me, he suggested that I write on what had me SO incensed, and how I was contributing to my outrage. As little as I wanted to, I agreed it was a good idea.
What I discovered in my writing over the next few days is a link in my very early conditioning between getting what I want and being loved or lovable. I concluded very early that if I have what I want, it means I deserve to be loved and am lovable; if I don’t have what I want, I’m unworthy and unlovable. I was stunned to see how much that belief has continued driving my self-righteous behavior over the 60+ years since it might have developed.
To that young part of me, that conditioning certainly makes getting my needs and wants met crucial to my well-being and even my ability to survive. Thus, when I perceive a chance that I’m not going to get what I want, I feel like my survival is being threatened. To that little one, it means someone is seeing me as unworthy of love. Since I could not survive without others’ love at that age, that means I cannot survive without having what I need and want.
As I looked this old pattern in the eye, I felt a whole rainbow of emotions: chagrin, a little shame, relief to have clarity on this pattern of self-righteousness that’s been so troubling to me. And mostly, I felt compassion for that young part of me who was doing her best to make her way in the world and drew some mistaken conclusions in the process. It was also shocking to see how long that pattern had remained unconscious, driving my behavior, and I grieved the losses that have resulted from my selfishness over time.
Then Sunday morning, I woke up earlier than I wanted, and fell into annoyance. I tried to force myself to go back to sleep (never a fruitful effort in my experience, but I sometimes try anyway). Then I had an insight – oh, I’m drawing the conclusion that I’m unloved in this moment because this isn’t what I want. I’m judging my experience as “bad” and trying to change it instead of accepting what’s so. I’m not loving myself as I am in this moment!
So I got up and went to meditate at my altar, inviting a new perspective. I expressed my frustration to the Divine, and asked for Her help. And She was right there, holding me in love and compassion, accepting all my emotions. My mind continued to tell the story of not being lovable as I am, but I no longer got triggered by it. It was just background noise.
I did a half-hour meditation, and decided to go back to sleep when I was complete. As I lay down, I heard that young voice from inside me saying, “I’m loved, Nance! I’m lovable!” She felt worthy of love despite not getting what she wanted (waking up so early); she was able to rest in loving herself and in the Mother’s love! What a big shift!
It will be a process to fully embody this in our life, and we’re on that path! Blessed be!